Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Potato Soup

My mind is totally blown that I have not posted this Scott family standby to the blog yet.  This recipe is from Cafe Bernardo--a restaurant I worked at in my college days in Sacramento--it comes with a helping of Nostalgia! This soup is easy, comforting and we return to it at least twice a year.  If you like mashed potatoes, you'll like this soup. It can be adapted to a vegetarian diet and/or lightened up (ex: use milk instead of cream, half the butter) in a pinch. I usually serve it with a spinach salad and some buttered rosemary bread on the side.

Roasted Red Pepper Potato Soup

1 red bell pepper
5 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
5 cloves of garlic
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
2-3 medium carrots, chopped
2 quarts chicken stock, vegetable broth or water
1 cup hot cream
1/4 cup butter
Creme fraiche or sour cream (optional)

Roast the bell pepper by placing under the broiler or over an open flame (like a grill) until the skin is blackened on all sides.  Place pepper in a sealable plastic bag and seal top and letter pepper steam for 15 minutes or until the skin can be slipped off. Remove pepper from bag, peel off skin and remove seeds.  (You could also buy the bottled roasted pepper but I found the flavor to be a little thinner with the bottled stuff.)  Cut pepper into strips.

Place pepper, potatoes, garlic, onion and carrot in a large pot and add stock or water.  Cook over medium high heat until potatoes are sofft. Add cream and butter.  Puree in a blender, food processor or use an immersion blender to process until very smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Crockpot Parmesan Garlic Chicken With Orzo

A student I used to work with exposed me to the "How Sweet It Is" blog and I have been going semi-crazy with trying recipes.  This past week I pulled out the crockpot--which is kind of counter-intuitive for summer--but wanted to try and easy chicken dish that would also yield good leftovers.  Oh, and I wanted it to also be semi-healthy after living off of leftover pizza and cupcakes from Bjorn's birthday party last week.

Enter: Crockpot Parmesan Garlic Chicken With Orzo.

Best part about this recipe is that it requires you open a "dry white wine" with which to marinade the chicken and also to place in the crockpot.  This, of course, does not make use of the whole bottle--so I got a "nice" (ie, above 9 dollars) bottle and had one of my first glasses of wine post-Elsa after putting together all the ingredients.

The verdict:  I thought this recipe was ridiculously easy, made the house smell delicious (if you like the smell of garlic, and if you don't--we need to have a talking to), and was pretty good to eat, too.

Some tips:

  • Make sure to get and or grate the "finely grated parmesan"--it is pretty essential for the marinade not to have the shredded type.  
  • I mixed the orzo with brocoli like the pictures told me to do even though they said "vegetable of choice".  Brocoli is so easy and also went well with this combo, I thought. 
  • I think you can add more orzo and less chicken if you're into that kind of thing.  We are and used a little more than a cup of orzo and only used three chicken breasts instead of four.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

WS Old-fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits

Megan is probably out of buttermilk by now but I'm contributing Williams-Sonoma's (from the Complete Outdoor Living Cookbook) old-fashioned buttermilk biscuits recipe because it's good enough to go back to the store to buy more buttermilk.  This recipe is super easy, especially if you use the food processor short cut.  Serve these slathered with butter and honey and scrambled eggs on the side.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled (COLD) unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425.  In a bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.   Using a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles  coarse meal.  (Or, in my case dump the flour mixture and butter into the food processor and blend a few times until it resembled a course meal.  Then put back into the bowl for the addition of buttermilk.)  Pour in the buttermilk and mix quickly with a fork until just blended. Do. Not. Overwork. Turn out lightly onto a floured work surface and knead the dough briefly until it just holds together.  (I use wax paper sprinkled with a little flour to make clean up easier.)
2. Shape the dough into a circle about 8 inches  in diameter, about 1 to 1 1/4 inches think.  Cut into biscuits with a biscuit or cookie cutter, or a glass (I use a 3 inch diameter drinking class).
3. Arrange the biscuits about 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown and puffy, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cook on baking sheet for about 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Rich Buttermilk Waffles (Or How to Utilize Leftover Buttermilk)

Remember when I made an Olive Oil Blood Orange Cake?  Yeah, well all of a sudden I found myself with more buttermilk in my fridge than I had ever had there before.  (When you start with never having  buttermilk in your fridge, this is not that difficult).

Anyway--I decided to try buttermilk pancakes this weekend to use it all up.  Then I remembered that Lars (and Bjorn?) actually don't like pancakes.  They are waffle purists.  Strange.  So, even though the recipe I found involved separating eggs and beating egg whites to firm peaks (gawd), I decided to appease the boys in my life.

This is the Mark Bittman Rich Buttermilk Waffles recipe that I halved since--despite eating for two and having a toddler who has seemingly grown six inches in the past week---we just can't eat four servings of waffles first thing in the morning.  

I was very happy with how they turned out.  I was a little skeptical since I don't ever recall being that involved with eggs and my sordid waffle-making past; but it wasn't that difficult to separate and just beat the egg with a whisk instead of using an electric mixer.   I can't say I would go out of my way and buy buttermilk explicitly to make this recipe again--but if I ever have leftover buttermilk in the house (the rest of the ingredients are pretty much staples),  it will be a go-to weekend recipe.

Smitten Kitchen has also adapted the Bittman recipe for posting on her website.  Also looks to be a case of leftover buttermilk.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

California Chopped Salad

Another recipe circa my Cottage cookbook.  I'm beginning to wonder if I'm doing something illegal by posting it on here.  Am I?

We had our neighbors Bobby & Tina plus their adorable near-one-year old Emma over for a very spontaneous dinner last Friday night.  I was able to whip up homemade spaghetti pretty easily (its one of those back-pocket recipes you can go to in a pinch--you all have one, I know you do!) but I figured I should gussy up a salad of some kind.  This one looked easy, although I won't tell you how disappointed Lars was on a scale of 1-7 that there was no croutons.  I mean, it was off the charts!  Boy loves his croutons.  That said, our neighbors kept saying how good it was--and this should not really be that big of a surprise considering the delicious (and somewhat unhealthy?) ingredients.  Hey--it had garbanzo beans.  I get a little health street credibility for that, right?

1.5 head of romaine lettuce
1.5 cups Caesar dressing (we used a FRACTION of this.  Restaurants always drown their salads in dressing, don't they?)
1 plus 1/2 cup chopped salami (I felt like this was totally an unnecessary ingredient if you are a veg.  It is not a bad addition; just not integral to the salad being delicious).
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts (we used non-marinated from a can.  Still good).
1 cup chopped mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup garbanzo beans drained
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup shredded parmesan (we omitted this ingredient although there was fresh parmesan on the table that people were informed they could sprinkle on their salad if they'd like).

Wash and dry the lettuce and chop into small pieces.  In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the salad dressing, 1 cup of the chopped salami, the artichokes, mozzarella cheese, olives, green onions, and garbanzo beans.  Divide the salad among four serving dishes.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the chopped tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of remaining salami on each (we did not do this whole divide and conquer step--we just threw everything together and tossed it up! although I will say adding the dressing to the lettuce before all the other ingredients was a very helpful step).  Sprinkle each serving with parmesan cheese and enjoy.

Boy do I use a lot of parentheses.   I wish I had taken a photo of this salad.  I thought it looked v nice when all was sad and done.  I was proud!

Chicken Jerusalem

This has been a recipe I have been eyeing ever since 2008. That's right--we're approaching on five years of me eyeballing a recipe and never making it. Having our friends over for a cooking party seemed like a good time to try it--especially since my cooking criteria was "artichokes" and this recipe had major artichoke potential! Apparently artichokes; olives; and all things brine are what floats my boat this pregnancy. Also I like oranges (see previous post).

The recipe is from the Cottage in La Jolla. We added more artichokes (!) and less chicken. Because that's how we roll. Also, we just used jasmine rice because it was what I had and I didn't really want to deal with wild rice. The effect was that, when plated, it looked pretty putrid. But it was still quite good. I would recommend figuring out how to add some parmesan or a little bit more salt because it was a little more mild than I had anticipated...

1.5 cups wild rice (or Jasmine or white rice if you're me!)
2 whole chicken breasts skinned and boned (I just used plain chicken breasts because skinning and de-boning anything terrifies me)
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts, chopped (we didn't use marinated hearts--but I don't think you were supposed to. In hindsight, I wonder if this would have given it a little more flavor).
4 tbsp chopped shallots
1 cup white wine
2 cups heavy cream

Cooking Instructions:
Cook the rice according to the package directions, set aside and keep warm. Slice the chicken breasts into 1-inch strips. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and add to the saute pan. Cook until brown. Add the garlic, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and shallots and cook for 3 minutes. Add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add the heavy cream and simmer for 5-7 minutes.or until the sauce starts to reduce and thicken. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Presentation note: 
This dish is served nicely if you arrange the rice around the side of the plate and the Chicken Jerusalem in the center of the dish. If you only use white rice, its just going to look like a giant blob of white/artichoke color on your plate so be warned! Maybe a sprinkling of some nice herbs like italian parsley or a colorful garnish would liven it up a bit.

Blood Orange Olive OIl Cake

The citrus in the markets is overwhelming now, no?  I go to Trader Joe's or Meijer/Kroger (midwest regional grocery-store shout out.  Hey!) and I'm just blown away by the cuties; clementines; heirloom naval oranges (YES, PLEASE and THANK YOU).   Our house is a cornucopia of citrus right now.  I just can't get enough.  

...which leads me dessert on Saturday night.  Lars and I were hosting our good friends Danielle & Garrett from East Lansing.  These are my Michigan cooking friends.  We invite them over and then try new recipes--by "we" I mean Danielle and I.  Garrett and Lars eat chips and salsa and play indoor hockey and/or trains with Bjorn.  It all works out, you know?  On the menu for Saturday was Jerusalem Chicken (a la The Cottage Cookbook) and a kale salad.   Both turned out well--but my real triumph for dinner on Saturday was a Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake from the Smitten Kitchen blog.  

The finished product.  Aren't blood oranges beautiful?  

Oh, man.  I felt like such a champion when I inserted the knife into the middle after 55 minutes of hand-ringing baking and it came out clean.  Bonus--it tasted amazing (at least to me!) and blood oranges are beautiful.  

Ingredients I have never cooked with before include: blood oranges & buttermilk (true story!).  
Cooking techniques I have now learned/attempted:  Supreming an orange. 

One thing I regret is not making the compote even though I had all the ingredients!  At the end of the night and after cooking for an hour and a half; the last thing I wanted to do was make another mess in the kitchen.  Cake + vanilla ice cream sounded divine.  Although the compote (especially the part where you mix in the honey) sounded amazing.  Another time.  

I have a bunch of leftover buttermilk in my fridge.  Think I'm going to try homemade buttermilk pancakes at some point this week.  Because I'm a domestic diva.